Thursday, 13 September 2018

📚Book Review: No Straight Lines

This book, No Straight Lines: Local Leadership and the Path from Government to Governance in Small Cities, contains research (practical and theoretical) on strategies for community leadership, with a focus on the themes of equality of quality of life and quality of place.

No Straight Lines
Author, Terry Kading, in the introductory chapters, feels that social capital, especially in large cities, is lacking with a decline in civic engagement. I would disagree, as I know many people my age and older who continue to be contributing members of society. Now that we are retired, we have moved away from volunteering as young parents with Scouts, sitting on Parent Councils, fundraising for our children’s groups including our religious affiliations, to supporting others in our community.

Kading writes of social capital. There are those who are ‘bridging social capital’ (creating capital between various groups) and creating ‘vertical social capital,’ by linking governments (municipal, regional, provincial, or federal) to the community, and to volunteers who believe in transformative leadership. The sagas in these stories around the politics of community groups, seizing government funding and sustainability, are heroic, as the politicians seem to work in four-year cycles.

The chapters outline the required research, the community-based projects, and volunteer activities, conducted by faculty and students from Thompson Rivers University (TRU), all designed to improve quality of life. Community-Based Research at TRU is an important part of their mandate. There are many lessons to learn. They have examined the needs of community in the city of Kamloops, where TRU is located. (The authors define Kamloops as a ‘small city,’ with a population of 90,000.)

The projects highlight the mentality of the federal government, for example, who are more concerned with temporary shelters, and eliminating panhandling, public intoxication, and hiding the visible homeless, rather than connecting with those who create opportunities such as Rent banks, where the homeless can get a hand up in first and last month’s rent. The chapter by anthropologist Lisa Cooke documents an organic collaboration detailing The Shower Project, as another example. United Steelworkers Local 7619, with 1100 members, worked with TRU to build an on-demand shower room in the ASK Wellness Centre in Kamloops. An act of community engagement, which empowers those who may have a job interview, or a chance for housing. It reminded me of our Habitat for Humanity projects, with whom we’ve volunteered!
Community gardens in Vancouver
Another chapter focused on the community vegetable garden in Kamloops. It was enlightening. We are used to examples of Guerrilla Gardening for simple beauty, but this project was strictly citizen-led engagement using human capital. They define natural, cultural, human, social, political and financial capital, in this chapter. The results were amazing. No one was charged for the vegetables. They were simply to beautify, and provide food in the fall.
Community gardens in Vancouver

The final project, Kamloops Adult Learning Society (KALS), documents the collaboration between those in the community who are adult learners, banking the human capital available through a wide, rich group of 50 volunteers, 285 members, providing 100 courses of learning. This is the University of the Third Age (U3A). Using strategies adopted by KALS will engage all learners interested in facilitating a strong, vibrant community of learners.

Canadian senior learners are keen – not only to learn but also to organize and communicate with fellow learners.” (p. 179)

About the author
Terry Kading is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Department of Philosophy, History and Politics at Thompson Rivers University. He is editor of Small Cities, Big Issues: Reconceiving Community in a Neoliberal Era.

I was sent this by the publisher. My book review is being published in the Canadian Journal of Action Research.


Are you an older adult or student who wants to participate in the Toronto HomeShare Pilot Project?
Click Here for More Information.

We donate monthly to our food bank, as well as some other groups (our Women's Shelter, The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary).

I was interested in what they are doing for local citizens: "The Table Community Food Centre now offering peer advocacy programming in Perth".
This is what will help people in our community.

This was on the bridge in Clayton. There is a pair of scissors, with a sign.
You can help yourself to the herbs growing there!
What a lovely idea!


Powell River Books said...

Sounds like an interesting book. We have an ElderCollege at our local Vancouver Island University campus. The courses are limited and still require fees, but not quite as much as the other community learning classes. I am interested in learning more about the candidates running for office as mayor, on the council and school board, but there isn't anything available online, at least not yet. Maybe after the candidate declaration period is over. I want my first votes as a Canadian to count in the best way. - Margy

William Kendall said...

Timely given the current circumstances.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks for the review.

We too have food banks in the UK. Several large stores have donation stations, so it is easy to do. So many now rely heavily on the help and generosity from others.

All the best Jan

Kay said...

It's so wonderful to have those gorgeous green areas for people to enjoy. We have too much concrete over here.